By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management
On January 21, MTV was filming an episode of the 'Dude, This Sucks'
show. Surely you have seen it. The taping was a live concert at Snow
Summit Ski Resort, featuring the music group Shower Ranger. At one point
in the show, one of the Shower Rangers dropped his pants, bent over, pointed his
bare rear-end at the mostly teenage crowd and sprayed fecal matter onto
fans. After learning two 13-year-old girls filed a lawsuit against the
network for this episode, MTV programming president, Brian Graden, apologized
and noted he had taken steps to make certain no one was every sprayed with human
feces at another MTV event.
That MTV could organize a television show featuring human excrement surprises
almost no one. What is shocking, however, is the lack of general public
outrage about the incident.
MTV is owned by Viacom, the parent company of a number of other television
properties, including CBS Television and CBS News. Viacom is in business
to make money for its shareholders. Collectively, the shareholders have no
concern for the filth or debauchery to which Viacom might stoop to generate
those profits; they want the money. Since the days of the money changers
in the Temple, humans have shown little or no respect for the boundaries of
decency when there are a few shekels involved.
At one time, such acts of filth were self-policed by the community ' even if
the community was an entire nation. In a different generation, people
would demonstrate their outrage with their feet and their dollars. Lucy
and Ricky Ricardo slept in separate beds because viewers would be offended at a
public display of an intimate setting. The 'Tonight Show' once censured
the British term 'WC,' because it is a reference to a Water Closet ' a
bathroom. I have no reason to believe the producers of the 'Tonight Show'
were any more or less personally vulgar than the producers of 'Dude, This
Sucks.' But each show reflected the standard of decency of its
Every less virtuous exposure lessens our sensitivity to another entire group
of behaviors. As a child, I was not allowed to watch the television show
'Maude,' presumably, because Adrienne Barbeau wore tight shirts with no
bra. In retrospect, that is cute compared to today's constant MTV and BET
displays of adoring nude women as the personal possessions of a generation of
thug musicians. With every step we take in a new direction, our memory of
our most recent steps fades a little bit. By the time MTV organizes a poop
party, it makes us chuckle that Charlie Daniels had to record a censored version
of 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia,' replacing SOB with 'sun of a gun.'
We are a society that demands our kids 'Just Say No' to drugs, unless it is a
stimulant administered by the school system. Then the child must just say
yes. We tell our children to behave in certain ways, then fill our homes
with images and idols of filth that betray the message we claim to send.
But as long as 'Dude, This Sucks' is on our televisions, it doesn't matter what
we say. And as long as MTV can produce such rubbish with impunity, it will
be on our televisions. Viacom is not our minister; it is our drug
dealer. The motives of both the corner drug dealer and Viacom are the
same: money. As long as we realize this, we have the power to force Viacom
The good news is the bad news. This situation will eventually correct
itself; self-destructive behaviors always do.
David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a
Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article
originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).